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Davis Webb had a promising debut with New York Giants

New York Giants quarterback Davis Webb (5) looks to pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter of a preseason NFL football game, Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
AP Photo/Julio Cortez

The New York Giants aren’t ready to look to the future, especially at quarterback this season. The Giants believe veteran Eli Manning still has enough to help the franchise make one more run to the playoffs and beyond.

However, in Friday’s preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Giants got a glimpse of the possible future. Although suited up, Manning did not play. The Giants witnessed the first game action of rookie third-round pick Davis Webb.

The third quarterback to play, Webb played two series in the Giants’ 20-12 loss. He completed 8 of 16 passes for 67 yards. He showed poise in the pocket, accuracy and command in limited action.

I thought he had some ups and downs in there,” Giants head coach Ben McAdoo said following the game. “He competed nicely, came out of the pocket, had some chances to make some plays, he did fairly well.

Webb entered the game with 6:39 left in the fourth quarter. The Giants wanted to see what their young rookie had.

Webb’s first play was a pass to Kevin Norwood that sailed way over the 6-foot-2 receiver’s head. The next play, Webb attempted to hit running back Khalid Abdullah on a crossing route out of the backfield, but the back dropped the pass.

Instead of blowing up and pouting after his first two NFL passes were missed, Webb came right back. He looked left and then right, connecting with Abdullah on a checkdown for a first down.

The next play, Webb perfectly executed a wide receiver screen to Keeon Johnson for six yards. Then he hit Jerome Lane on a slant for eight yards and another first down.

The drive bogged down, magnifying the point that this wasn’t a perfect outing for Webb. While he looked good on quick, short throws, he struggled when forced to move out of the pocket. He couldn’t step into the ball. On the one pass he attempted for more than 15 yards, Johnson had a step on the Steelers’ secondary but had to wait on the ball. The pass was broken up.

“When it came off the hand I felt pretty good about it,” Webb said in this bigbluereview.com article. “But, hey, I gotta get it more up and down. Safety made a good play. I need a better ball. When I let it go I felt good about it. I thought we’d be at the 15-yard line, 20-yard line, whatever and we’d be rolling. But that’s football. Next play. I didn’t make that fourth-down play… I’ve gotta make that throw to Jerome at the end of the game.”

Still, Webb showed command of the huddle, something he didn’t have to do in college. He also showed enough mobility to avoid the rush and make something out of nothing with his legs. Webb also showed good awareness. While operating the two-minute drill, he was flushed out of the pocket. Instead of trying to get a few more yards, he wisely stepped out of bounds to stop the clock.

Like most quarterbacks, when Webb was rushed and couldn’t step into his throws, he wasn’t as accurate. His final pass of the game was an example of that. The Steelers blitzed and a man was free. Webb saw him and sprinted to his right. Lane was open in the flat for what would have been a first down, but like his first pass, Webb’s final pass of the game sailed high and incomplete.

Still, it was a good beginning for the rookie who can grow from this experience. The Giants may not be ready to look to the future just yet, but Webb gave them their first live-action look at the man who may be Manning’s replacement. Changing “may be” to “will be” is up to Webb.

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